Archive for August, 2009

Weekend assignment: Learn RSS

Here’s your first hands-on weekend assignment—and, like most of the other weekenders we’ll do this semester, this one is built on Web 2.0 technologies: I want you to learn how to use RSS like a blogger, and that means digging into the goodness of Google Reader.

To get started, read this post by Mindy McAdams and watch this video from the Common Craft folks:

You’ll need to set up a Google account, if you don’t have one already, and then just have a go of it. Add at least 10 feeds from sources that interest you—be they sports, fashion, food, whatever. Then add these feeds from the “future of journalism” community:

—Start with the Nieman Journalism Lab, the best one-stop source for understanding the future of news—its innovations, its business models, its key thinkers. A must-read.

—Next, PBS’ MediaShift blog helpfully tracks developments in citizen and social media, and also has a number of great spinoff blogs as well, so check ’em out.

—I mentioned Mindy McAdams. Her Teaching Online Journalism blog is chock full of great tutorials on multimedia and more.

—Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine is a no-brainer on this tour; you need to follow him, especially as his blog builds on the ideas in the “What Would Google Do?” book we’ll read.

—You’d be remiss not to follow Poynter’s Romenesko, which provides a daily dose of industry news and insider gossip; and for more on the business of journalism, Alan Mutter’s Newsosaur blog is a great resource. (Many more suggestions in this vein here.)

—A number of young, 20-something journalist/entrepreneurs are worth following, especially for the excellent links (and wisdom) they share: Ryan Sholin, David Cohn, and Suzanne Yada, for starters.

That’s just a sampling. Start with those, and we’ll add more in class Tuesday. At that time, I can troubleshoot any problems you’re running into as you add feeds and such. Just have fun with it this go-round!

[p.s. No need to comment on this post; just come to class prepared to talk about what you learned in the process, and mention a few posts that caught your eye over the weekend.]

UPDATE: Here are the sites we discussed in class today; please add each to your Google Reader:

Mashable and ReadWriteWeb, two key guides to social media

Techcrunch, Wired, and the NYT’s Bits blog, to get a feel for tech news

—And some more future-of-journalism destinations: MediaShift’s Idea Lab, which features winners of the Knight News Challenge program that will feature prominently in this class; Mark Brigg’s Journalism 2.0 blog that builds on the book you read; and a couple of other smart thinkers out there—e.g., Jay Rosen (he posts infrequently now, but follow him on Twitter and read his blog archives!), Mathew Ingram (on Twitter), Steve Outing, and Will Sullivan’s Journerdism.

Getting started: Journalism 2.0

Welcome to fall term! It was great to have a full house in class today, and I’m looking forward to a great semester—especially with so many experienced seniors in multimedia among us.

As I mentioned in class, a Version 2.0 of the syllabus is coming soon, once we get a few scheduling issues ironed out. In that second version, I’ll spell out more clearly what we’ll read between now and the innovation project, at the least. That’s when the bulk of the reading comes in, during September and October—so, plan accordingly! (Syllabus 1.0 is available on Blackboard, as well as here.)

Meanwhile, in Week 2 (Sept. 1 and 3) we’re going to tackle the crucial background of the Web: how we got it, how it works, and why that matters for understanding current issues in media, journalism, and society at large.

In Tuesday’s class, we’re going to cover the basics of new technology in journalism: what are blogs? what is RSS? etc. Nuts-and-bolts kind of stuff. A good starter for that is to read Mark Briggs’ Journalism 2.0, the free PDF of which can be found here. I’ll admit: the text is starting to feel a little stale, which says something about the speed with which the new and unfamiliar can become old hat so quickly in our fast-paced era. But it’s still a very useful starting point for answering basic questions about how the Web works and what that means for journalism—the very bedrock of this class.

I’d like you to read pages 1-68. Focus particularly on chapters 1 (on RSS) … 2 (on Web 2.0) … and 5 (on how to blog). For some of you, this may feel redundant; just skim along and focus on the parts that are new for you. Then, as we discussed in class, please respond to the readings in the comments section of this post. What to write? Well, you might tell us what you learned, what surprised you, what questions you still have … or focus on the “so what” at stake: Why does any of this stuff matter for the future of journalism?

Reminder: Please respond by Monday at 8 p.m. Thanks!

Theme for fall semester: Innovation

I’m retooling the syllabus for a fall semester that begins in less than a week, and so the timing couldn’t have been better when I came across this video from the CoPress folks (on Twitter, too):

Beyond the buzzword emptiness that can be associated with “innovation,” the term has real meaning for how we think about journalism and its future in the digital age. During the 12 months that I’ve had the reins of this course on Writing for Online Publication, the focus has drifted from one of being blog-oriented (Fall 2008; to greater emphasis on social media (like Twitter) and the umbrella notion of “news innovation” (Spring 2009); and now to an even more penetrating look at the entrepreneurial elements of grassroots, startup journalism. This fall I hope to get the students thinking deeply about (1) the culture that undergirds innovation and the Web at large, (2) some simple tools for understanding the digital domain today, and (3) some practical applications for making new kinds of newswork come alive.

Should be a great term. See you in a week!

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August 2009

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